Supporters Unite for Education Day of Action - NBC Bay Area

Supporters Unite for Education Day of Action

Grassroots movement born in the Bay Area



    Supporters Unite for Education Day of Action
    Christie Smith
    Students, educators and supporters unite against education cuts.

    Thousands of students, educators and concerned citizens are gathering at school campuses across the country Thursday for a united effort against education cuts. Unprecedented hikes in student fees, teacher furloughs, layoffs and canceled classes sparked the frustration and anger that led to today's rallies.

    Protests and rallies for the Day of Action have been in the works for months. The grassroots effort started in the Bay Area, where some of the biggest rallies are planned. Although there's no single group coordinating the March 4 activities, several organizations are behind the effort. There are now 122 events planned in 33 states for today's action. Check out the map.

    San Francisco is one of the region's hardest hit by what's referred to as the crisis in education. The city has to cut $113 million from their education budget over the next two years. Last month, the school board approved massive layoffs for nearly 900 teachers and administrators.

    As supporters marched and rallied, the Obama administration dealt a blow to the state's federal education funding. California was shut out for the first round of the "Race to the Top" fund, a $4.3 billion school resource competition promoted by the Obama administration.

    Students Take to the Streets in Berkeley

    [BAY] Students Take to the Streets in Berkeley
    Raw video of students in Berkeley marching down Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley on Thursday.
    (Published Friday, March 5, 2010)

    About 150 protesters gathered at UC Santa Cruz and about another 500 students marched at San Jose State University. In Davis, about 1,000 students marched towards the I-80 freeway and threatened to shut it down.

    More than 100 people were arrested after a splinter group broke away from a large protest in Oakland late Thursday afternoon and took to Interstate Highways 880 and 980, a police spokesman said. One person was is injured fell 25-feet off the roadway while trying to elude cops, who were closing in on protesters.
    At about 5 p.m., demonstrators walked onto Highway 980 in the area of 11th and 12th streets, blocking that highway and subsequently Highway 880 in both directions, police Officer Jeff Thomason said.

    Picket signs for Thursday's action went up at UC Berkeley before the sun came up. Organizers there say they were expecting a peaceful but loud rally to take over the campus. After a rally there turned into a riot last week, police said they were ready for anything.

    About 5,000 people were expected to gather for a 5 p.m. rally at the San Francisco Civic Center Plaza traveled down Market Street.

    Students at Bay Area schools -- from elementary level to university -- were planning to walk out of class in support of the movement. All 23 California State University campuses were scheduled to have events. Earlier this week, De Anza College students set up tents on the campus' main quad to make a statement about the state's budget cuts to education. Students have been spending the night in the tents in preparation  for today's event.

    Facebook, Twitter and blogs are ever-changing with information and calls to action for the united effort. They have been ground zero for planning and rallies.

    The California Teachers Association says over the last two years, legislators have cut $17 billion from schools and colleges. Districts up and down the Golden State have laid off 16,000 teachers and eliminated programs like art, music and PE from their schedules.
    Seven Bay Area school districts will hold disaster drills today to draw attention to the cuts.

    Students rally at Cal State East Bay (Qik video from Rob Mayeda)

    Sound Off on education cuts and share your point of view with us on our Facebook page and on Twitter @nbcbayareacom.